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o oh we’re out there OCTOBER 21, 2005 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5 one moved to his or her side. A phalanx ferent than the Muslims who are hackof more than a dozen policemen sepaing off heads,” Morris said. “I’ve seen rated the two. these people before. Most of them are In the pro-Minutemen crowd stood a hardcore communists.” woman who reluctantly identified her At the podium, Steve Mason, a repre self as “The Bat Lady.” She wore a sentative of Texas Minutemen, shouted matching black cape, mask, and boots and pointed fingers at the row of coun and held aloft a sign that read “Got ter -demonstrators. “The International Leprosy?” When queried about the sign, Socialist Organization, Anti-Racist she shoved a crumpled piece of paper Action, Texas Civil Rights Project… into a reporter’s hand. “There. There is these people who claim to be peaceniks my quote,” she said. are really violent, vicious people.” He It read: “There are laws to come into roared into the microphone, “Keep an this country legally. They must get a FBI eye on these people!” background check and a full medical Jason Netek of the International check. The U.S. doesn’t have to let in Socialist Organization said his group those with TB, AIDS, or leprosy, or crimcouldn’t hear any of the pro-Minutemen inals and terrorists. All we ask is the U.S. speeches over their own chanting. “We government enforce its own laws.” don’t need to hear their arguments,” The tone for the rally was set when he said. the opening prayer was sidelined by a But the Minutemen’s basic point that robust counter-chant of “racist, sexist, there is an illegal immigration crisis is anti-gay, right-wing bigots go away.” gaining currency in Washington, D.C. This prompted a chant in response of Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey “USA, USA, God bless the USA.” During Hutchison has filed legislation that the day several punches were thrown would authorize the border patrol to and at least one demonstrator was deputize volunteer ex-lawmen as an asked to leave by the police. official Minutemen-like militia, and 83 Judy Morris, a demonstrator at the Republicans in the U.S. House signed a event, walked by and nodded at the letter to President Bush in early October row of counter -demonstrators forming demanding that he back off a guest behind her, some of them shouting worker proposal and instead focus on “racist pigs.” “These people are no difborder enforcement. grounds prompted state Rep. Norma the 2005 legislative session to put TCEQ inspectors back on the border. “Where NAFTA may have some benefits it shouldn’t be at the expense of the environment along the Texas-Mexico border,” said Chavez. “When you’re not inspecting and you’re not tracking where the hazardous waste is going, we’re asking for trouble down the road.” Chavez’s bill died in the House Committee on Environmental Regulation. Meanwhile, the Minutemen are patrolling the Texas-Mexico border, looking for “illegals” and chastising the government for not doing its job. It seems it will take Eco-men and women to deal with the hazardous waste problem. Chris Simcox, President of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, said through a spokesperson, “It’s not something the Minutemen are focused on right now in that their focus is on the illegal crossings … As a general comment, [Simcox] hopes that the federal government is doing their job to protect the American people.” MINUTEMEN MADNESS “The biggest change in my life,” Bill Moyers said at a recent Observer event, “is that the delusional is no longer marginal.” When it comes to the current immigration debate in Texas, that may be only partly true. In addition to your garden-variety senators and congressmen with crazy ideas, the subject of what to do about illegal immigration has attracted Texans that have a long way to travel before they leave marginal territory. Many of the more strident and paranoid were on display on the south steps of the state Capitol on October 1 for a pro-Minutemen rally. In addition to the Texas chapter of the Minutemen, the Young Conservatives of Texas, U.S. Border Watch, and Save Our Taxpayers swelled the crowd to about 40 demonstrators. To add to the fun, there were about 20 counter -demonstrators drawn from Anti-Racist Action, the International Socialist Organization, the Texas Civil Rights Project, and the ACLU. It was hard to tell who was who in the beginning, but as the rally began, every